PVR Questions/Problem

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Randy Korstick, Nov 7, 2002.

  1. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

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    I am very seriously considering a PVR but I am having trouble deciding which way to go. I have Dish Network so I have narrowed my choices to:

    1.)Dish Networks PVR508 or PVR721. I was all set to go this route but then I keep reading nothing but negative reviews. That they are buggy, they don't always record correctly, the set-ups and recording features are no where near as nice or easy to use as Tivo or ReplayTV. The big advantage with this one is no monthly fees and I would be getting the live transmission recorded for better quality and full use of the drive space. Does anyone have any good things to say about these?

    2.) A stand alone Tivo to connect to the Dish Reciever. Currently I am leaning toward this option what is holding me back is that it will not be a live recording and I will have to use the 4 different quality settings for recording and I am afraid that I will end up having to use the best mode all the time and not get that many hours from the unit. This one seems to have the best recording features from what I have read. Anyone know how bad the quality from satellite would be on this for the different recording modes?

    3.) A stand alone ReplayTV to connect to the Dish Receiver. This one has the same concerns about recording quality as the Tivo. The advantage on this one is I can get Dolby Digital out and Component Video out but I have read the recording features are not as nice as the Tivo. Is the quality of the different recordings any better here than the Tivo.

    So which of the 3 options do you feel would be the best or which would you choose and why. Switching to Directv is not an option. I signed my father up for Directv a few years back and because it is in my name they will not let me have any sign up discounts for a new address so that is why I went with Dish. Directv would be too expensive paying full retail for all the equipment and instalation.
     
  2. Kyle Peters

    Kyle Peters Auditioning

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    Randy, I have the PVR508 and I really like it. As far as trouble and recording, it has worked prefectly for me. I have had it for about a year and no problems. I don't know about the other options but since I record off the Dish, it works well for me. I would say if that is all you want to record it's a good choice. But if you want to record other sources you would have to go with one of the other options. I really like the playback options the PVR has,,,skipping ahead with a button so many seconds at a time and sevearl fast forward speeds. All in all I think the PVR is a good unit.
    Kyle
     
  3. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    I have to agree with Kyle.

    I have a 508, and have had no problems worth noting. The PQ is better than you would get with a standalone, and the drive space is used much more efficiently (though you don't get the advertised capacity with any of these things... I probably average 55hrs on the 508, having a mix of programming ranging from TVLand on up to PPV with DD5.1).

    It DOES have a different (and reduced) feature set as compared to Tivo units - primarily the season's pass (or whatever they call it) and associated features.

    Unfortunately, I think the 508 gets a bad rap more due to its lineage than due to the negatives of the unit itself. Dish Network's history in the PVR area has been less than stellar, but the PVR508 is solid and stable.

    If you have little or no need to record OTA programs, and you subscribe to Dish, this is a no-brainer... the 508 or 721 should do well for you.

    Another thing... you would not be able to record programs with DD on a standalone unit.

    -Scott
     
  4. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

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    Thanks for the replies guys. I thought there had to be people out there that liked the PVR508. I think this may be the way I go due to picture quality. How easy was the PVR508 to set up? How long did it take? Thanks again.
     
  5. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Remember, you can't record OTA with a Dish PVR (same is true of the DirectTIVO).

    That said... if the majority of your viewing is via satellite, it's the way to go.

    The 508 is easy to set up. I don't remember specifics, but basically you plug it in to the AC and to the DISH feed, and the phone line... it goes through a software update and loads the guide data (combined, this will take several minutes - less than 10). You then perform a "Check Switch." Call Dish and activate...

    If you want to get the upgrade deal from Dish, there is still no guarantee that you'll get a 508 over a 501... and they will try and steer you to a "professional" install. After getting the runaround from them on these issues, I went to my local dealer and worked out an upgrade. I think I paid $270, but was assured of getting a 508. I had to switch to credit card auto-pay... even then, Dish Network gave the dealer the runaround they gave me, saying they couldn't guarantee a 508, until the dealer said they would give me one form their stock... this all happened a few months ago when the likelihood of me getting a 508 direct from Dish was slim. That's why I was willing to pay the extra $.

    The 721 needs two separate Dish feeds, so it's a bit more complicated if you aren't wired for it.

    I believe a Dish 500 dish is recommended for the PVRs, since they get the 9-day guide from the 110deg orbital slot.

    Hope this helps.

    -Scott
     
  6. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

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    Yes this helps Scott. Thanks. I only view T.V. from sattelite including the local channels. I was wondering about the set-up time because I have read that the Tivo's can take 2 hours or more to download the channel guide so its good to know these are alot faster. I would probably buy one from Sears to make sure its a 508. If you have a receiver already I guess you remove the old card and put it in the 508. Is there any recalibration that would need to be done then?
     
  7. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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  8. Gregory Pauswinski

    Gregory Pauswinski Supporting Actor

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    As an owner of a stand-alone Tivo I really like the flexibility of not locking myself into a certain delivery method (cable, OTA, satellite, etc.) The question of picture quality vs. space does not trouble me too much but it is definitely an individual preference. I record just about everything at the highest compression level and I often see slight motion artifacts but they don't really bother me. If they get distracting, then I'll lower the compression level for that show. It's going to depend on what types of shows you mainly watch.
    When I want excellent picture quality, I watch a DVD. I'm willing to compromise when it comes to TV.
    I can't address the Replay TV vs. Tivo question because I've never used a Replay TV. I do love my Tivo though! [​IMG]
    Gregory
     
  9. Ivan Lindenfeld

    Ivan Lindenfeld Second Unit

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    I can speak to some degree on the reputation of the DISH PVR's to help you a bit. I have a 501 and when we first got it the thing was sorely lacking in features versus a Tivo or Replay. However, there was a special and for $50 up front I got a 501 and got to play around with PVR technology for the first time.
    At first it was a bit buggy as a satellite receiver. The PVR feature worked fine but the unit would occasionally lock up. I was warned about this by the installer and I didn't experience it as much as he said I might, so I figured I won a little. The first time I noticed a software update from the satellite and they sent down a tutorial on the new features the unit started behaving better. Since January '02 there have been about 5 of these updates and my 501 never locks up. I can appreciate process improvement that gives real results and have some patience for it being in the Windows IT world. [​IMG]
    Then I started watching the little videos they send down when you get new features and realized that I liked the fact that this product would continue to improve with no effort on my part and no expense. It really has improved. I can't rattle off the feature right this second, but they are nice to have.
    My wife and I only have three gripes about our 501:
    1. When you select a show on the program guide to record, it had damn well better run from 7:59 to 9:00 or you'll miss some. I understand the Tivo has a very accurate program guide. We didn't see all of Friends last night even though the program guide knew it was 40 minutes. It cut off before the show actually ended. SHO is bad about starting 3 or 4 minutes "late", too.
    2. One tuner, one input. You have to watch what you are recording. For the most part our OTA channels are weak signals somehow, so we prefer to watch the nets on the Dish. Some of the Tivos and Replay units have two inputs so you can watch one thing and record another.
    3. I think it's rated for 35 hours and it's pretty accurate until you throw DD sources in there. We could use a bigger hard disk. I think the 508 has one, right?
    We will never live without PVR technology again, Lord willing. [​IMG]
    HTH!
     
  10. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

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    Thanks again guys.
    One more question on the PVR501/508. I know you can select a recording to occur for the same program weekly but can you also do this for a program that runs daily?
     
  11. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    I have a dish PVR501 and yes, the 501 allows you to make daily timers (once a day), I did that to record the live Tour de France stages on OLN all the time.

    I've had only one major lockup in the 2 years I've owned it, where I've lost my recorded programs and have had a few (2 or 3) lockups where I just lost video and a hard boot (power button on the unit for 5 seconds) fixed everything. Easy to use and the new search and 7 (or more?) day guide is nice.

    The multi tuner 701 would be nice but I find I have no problem 90% of the time because the shows on the Dish are rebroadcast so much it's not hard to find another rebroadcast.

    Jay
     
  12. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    Yes, you do hear about the problems. But there are thousands of people who quietly love their PVR.

    Do NOT buy an outboard Tivo/Replay. This would be bad because:

    - it will be a royal pain to get the two units to time-sync correctly for recording.

    - The outboard units take take a video/audio signal and re-digitize it resulting in a generational loss. The PVR units from the sat companies simply record the raw bits from the sat. This means the replay is bit-for-bit identical with the original feed.

    Of all my HT toys, the PVR is the only unit I have ever heard my wife brag about.

    Highly recommended.
     
  13. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

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    Thanks again guys. I ordered a PVR508. I should hopefully receive it and have it working by the weekend. I will let you know next week what I think.
     
  14. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

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    Well I got my PVR508 this weekend and set it up. I am very happy with the purchase and choice so far. It was easy and quick to set-up. About 30 minutes all together and I was up and running. It is very easy to setup recordings, much easier than a VCR. I can see where the recoding and search options on the TIVO are still nicer but I think I would quickly forget about those design features after awhile anyways once I become accustomed to the unit. The unit was very quiet too despite some reviews I had read about it being noisy. For my situation using Dish Network; having the quality of the Live recordings and the extra recording time have far more value than having fancier recording options. Of course the pausing and rewinding and skipping commercials on live TV is nice also. I would never go back to regular TV now. The only problem I have had with it is I cannot seem to get the Dolby Digital to work through the Optical cable. I verified on another unit that the cable is good. I made solid connections and made sure it was specified correctly in the PVR menu and then selected Optical input on my receiver but I get no sound at all. The receivers registers no input. It works fine through the left/right audio cables though. Anyone have any ideas? Also if it is something wrong with the unit do you think taking it in for a replacement and then having to set it up again is worth it. What I mean is I read some reviews that said they verified there is no difference in the sound through the Optical Dolby Digital vrs. the left/right outs. Has anyone else noticed a real difference?
    Thanks again.
     
  15. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    There is definitely a difference in sound quality using the digital out... even in programs that aren't in Dolby Digital.

    Now, do you mean you're not getting Dolby Digital, or you're not getting a digital PCM stream for non-DD programs? What channels are you trying? If you remove the analog cables, do you get sound, but not in DD 5.1? Or does the sound stop when you pull the analog plug?

    If your receiver is capable, select DD and PCM in the 508 menu (not looking at it now, so I'm working from memory). That way , you'll get digital audio, whether or not the program is 5.1.

    What stereo receiver do you have?

    The only Dolby Digital sources on Dish are HBO E/W, Showtime E/W and Starz E/W, and PPV when noted on the program guide. Other movie channels, even if the program indicates "DD 5.1 Where Available," well, it's not available yet.

    Glad you're otherwise happy with your choice. Look for software upgraded features in the coming months. Slo-mo and frame advance will be coming in December / January, and an improvement to the Timer screen that gives you program names instead of just channel numbers for previously set timers will be coming sometime in the first quarter next year.

    For added OpenTV features, a Reuters news option and a Customer Support option should be added around the end of this year, if not sooner.

    -Scott
     
  16. Randy Korstick

    Randy Korstick Producer

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    Thanks for the Info. Scott.

    I do have the Dolby/PCM option selected in the PVR menu. I also tried Dolby Digital only with the same results. My receiver is a Sony STR-DA5ES. I selected the Optical input when using it. I get no sound at all (not even a registered signal on the Sony) when using the Optical Dolby Digital connection regardless of what channel it is on but when I reconnect the PVR to my Sony using standard left/right cables then the sound is fine. I did verify the cable on my receiver by hooking it to my DVD player so the cable is fine. The funny thing is I see the red light coming from the output on the PVR so I am assumming there is a signal there. I will try to hook it to a different input on the Sony receiver tonight. That is the only other thing I can think of to try.
     
  17. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Old thread, but I just got a refurbed 508 and have some problems with the recorded programs randomly skipping ahead about a second at a time. When I do a frame by frame the video is not there, so I know it's not simply jumping forward through the program.

    I called Tech Support and she recommended doing an occasional soft reset and turning the unit off when not in use. I also found some info on DBS Talk that showed me how to bring up the memory diagnostic screen. When I press a certain button the message comes up about nonvolatile memory being corrupted and that unplugging the unit or powering off will fix it.

    So...any advice from you veteran 508 users?
     
  18. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    I had an old 501 that I just returned, as it was a rental, and bought a used 501 and a used 508.

    As far as the quietness, my 501's hard drive had a
    "park feature" where I would hear the drive park or unpark when the unit was turned off/on. The 508 I just got doesn't have that and it is indeed quiet. However, I never had a problem with either the 501/508 being that loud when in use.

    I use the digital output (toslink) for listening to satellite radio and the occasional free weekends when I get Starz or so. I don't subscribe to any premium channels so my DD output doesn't get utilized much!

    I've also been told about the two resets, the soft resets by holding the power button for like 6 seconds or the hard reset by physically removing the power from the plug for 30 seconds or so. I think the soft reset is useful for most problems and doesn't seem to hurt much.

    I can't think of what could be causing your DD problems. The only problem I had with my old 501 was that I had to share the toslink output with my X-box and my DD processor only had 1 toslink input (it had 2 co-axial inputs though). I could not use the Xbox while the 501 was connected because some stupid reason, the 501 still puts a carrier signal out on the toslink even when the unit is off so my DD processor would get confused when I tried my Xbox out. I would have to physically disconnect the toslink to the 501 to get the xbox sound to work.. very annoying!)

    I don't know if the 508 has this same problem though.. I haven't played my xbox in awhile...

    Jay
     
  19. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    I wound up getting a replacement and it's been fine so far.
     

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